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Hospital bed shortages: solutions and strategies from experts

Health officials worry as COVID-19 cases rise and available ICU beds decrease.

ATLANTA — Hospitals across the state are bracing for impact as the number of COVID-19 cases increase and available intensive care unit (ICU) beds decrease. 

Health experts have said a hospital bed shortage is definitely likely, especially after the state saw a 27 percent increase in hospitalizations over the last two weeks.

Grady Health Chief Dr. Robert Jansen said that if Grady Health System ran out of beds, it would use an outside facility. 

"We are talking to the governor’s office to see if we need to open the Georgia World Congress Center," he said.

While that may solve the crisis of the shortage of beds stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, some experts worry about adequate staffing and resources. 

Dr. Colin Smith, a clinical assistant professor at Georgia State’s School of Public Health said it's not about the raw number of beds in a facility, it's "about the number of appropriately staffed beds.” 

As far as other solutions, Dr. Smith said the only answer is prevention. 

"We need to do what we’ve been doing but do it even better,” Smith said.

Smith suggested that people increase their social distance efforts and mask wearing practices. He said upcoming elective procedures should be canceled now. 

He also added that people with a minor case of COVID-19 without major symptoms who can avoid going to the hospital, should isolate and stay at home.